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Naughty Shaq-tape story fizzles

Posted by: James Lileks under Sports Updated: August 10, 2011 - 10:56 AM

In case you've been following the case of the spurious tape:

A judge on Tuesday dismissed the charges against seven reputed gang members accused of abducting a music producer to demand the return of a supposed sex tape featuring former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal.

 

The dismissal came after a prosecutor told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria that the District Attorney's office had lost confidence in the credibility of the alleged victim, Robert Ross.

Those altruistic gang members, abducting people to get back the personal property of a star! Makes sense. Here’s how the story started last June:

According to sheriff’s report, Ross told investigators he was kidnapped at gunpoint by Main Street Crips gang members in West Hollywood in February 2008 and taken to the home of the gang’s alleged leader Ladell Rowles. He said the gang members beat him, stole $15,000 in cash and some jewelry.

 

Ross said Rowles demanded the purported videotape of O’Neal having sex with a woman other than his wife and $100,000, according to the sheriff’s investigative report.

 

Ross told investigators in 2008 that he believed O’Neal was behind the attack because of a business deal gone bad and because O’Neal believed he had the tape, the Times reported. Ross later told police he was “bluffing” about the tape.

 

Detectives found phone records showing a “flurry of calls” between Rowles and O’Neal’s business partner Mark Stevens around the time of the February 2008 incident, the sheriff’s report said.

That’s right: this nonsense has been occupying the courts for three and a half years. Side note:

In a July 2009 letter asking for leniency in Ross’ sentencing for unrelated federal drug and firearm charges, a sheriff’s captain wrote that Ross was cooperating with law enforcement as a victim and witness in an incident that may implicate a “celebrity,” the Times reported.

Obviously there was lots of leniency in that federal drug and firearm charge, or he’s still be in jail.

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